Today again, we see Saint Peter sinking into the waves after walking on the water. Just last week, Peter eloquently professed his faith. After Jesus asking who they said he was, Peter replies, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But just a few short verses later, in today’s Gospel, he rebukes Jesus for talking about his impending demise. He has once again taken his eyes off of Jesus and gotten too caught up in the storm. “Get behind me, Satan,” Jesus says to him, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Which is what Saint Paul is warning the Romans, and us, to avoid in today’s second reading: “Do not conform yourselves to this age,” he writes, “but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” So I think the challenge for us today is one of renewing our minds so that we can know and participate in God’s will.
This is not something, I am convinced, that we do once and for all. Because we are often tempted, as Peter was, to look somewhere else than at God’s will. There are plenty of distractions out there: bad television, impure relationships, and so much more. We have to constantly be on guard against these temptations, as Jesus was. When Peter tempted him to forget about the cross, Jesus reminded him that we have to think as God does, not as human beings do.
Learning to think this way takes some work. It takes prayer, it takes discernment, it takes getting advice from wise and trusted people, it takes a complete openness to God’s will. The question for us is always this: are we thinking as God does, or as human beings do?
What would it look like if all of our decisions in life were evaluated in this way? What would our workplaces be like? What would our schools and communities be like? What would our homes and families be like? Part of our reflection on these wonderful readings might be to do a little “holy dreaming” as to how this would play out in our lives, and what might be accomplished if we did it. That kind of “holy dreaming” is a great part of a vibrant prayer life.
The Psalmist sums it all up for us in his prayer: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, my God.” During this week, may we all drink deeply of the well that is God’s life.